Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Potty Potential

Here's another quick pre-holiday recap post (if that ever actually gets done), but this time, our subject matter is pee-pee and poo-poo. Yay!

I have told myself (and others) for some time now that after the holidays were over, I was going to start working with Owen on potty training. I would like for him to be fully trained by the time the new baby comes in April or May, and since he will be 2 1/2 years old next week, now seems like a good time. So, here we are, at this pivotal stage in my baby's development, and I have no clue where to start. Perhaps I'll just take you along on this journey with me — and if you have any pointers for me in the meantime, feel free to drop me a line.

{As a side note, Owen has had some sporadic success peeing in his Elmo potty chair (as you'll recall from this post), but he has not been consistent and we haven't really been trying to get him to go any time other than before his every-other-day bath. So, he's not completely unfamiliar with the concept of peeing in the little plastic bowl, but it's not something that's become a regular part of his routine by any means.}

Anyways, at the library today, I picked up a few light reading materials on the subject matter.

These are, of course, intended to get Owen more interested in using the potty and talk about how big boys transition from diapers to underpants, etc. I haven't watched the video yet, but we did read two of the books together tonight and Owen seemed relatively interested. So, I decided to give it a try. I pulled Elmo out into the living room and parked him in front of the TV. After only about 30 seconds of watching Blue's Clues without pants on (that is, Owen of course), he did it! And, as I gushed and gushed, he seemed genuinely pleased in himself this time! So, we washed our hands and he got a cookie as a reward. (Big mistake? Not sure yet.)

About 30 minutes later, he asked me for another cookie and I told him that he could only get another treat if he went on the potty again. So, he said "ok," which, if you know Owen, you know is a common response to all sorts of questions. I dragged Elmo back out and we repeated the whole process (only this time I think Dora the Explorer was on) and he peed again! I chose to reward him this time with something a little smaller (and more manageable on a long-term basis, I think) and gave him a Hershey Kiss instead. He was equally thrilled.

It wasn't long before he caught on to the idea that if he pees in the potty, he gets a treat and this boy is motivated by food (like his mama!) so he started asking me to "potty again." I think we'll wait until bedtime and try one last time tonight. And tomorrow, I have no plans other than to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things (see my list below), so we'll try an intensive day of potty patrol, though I'm not exactly sure what that is going to look like just yet.

Here is my list for the store, in preparation:

  • Pull-ups
  • Some sort of even smaller incentive treat (I'm thinking a bag of M&Ms, giving him just ONE each time he's successful)
  • Carpet/upholstery cleaner (for the inevitable accidents)
(We already have a rather extensive supply of big-boy underpants, but I think I will start with the pull-ups and just see how that goes first. Anything else I'm missing???)

And of course, seeing as how I've never done anything quite like this before, I have a host of unanswered questions, like, is it OK to train with the Elmo chair or should I insist on using the real toilet (either with or without a kid-size seat attachment)? I'm concerned that if we get him trained with the potty chair, we will only have to re-train him to use the real toilet later, but currently, he FREAKS out if I try to sit him on one. (I've only ever put him on straddling, facing backwards, as I've heard that is the best way to make sure they don't fall in and don't spray pee all over the place.)

Another questions is just how exactly is the best way to approach this "training" stuff. Do I do a several-day-long boot camp and not leave the house until he figures it out? I already know the answer to that...my life is too busy for that and it's not really my style. For instance, I don't have any plans for tomorrow, so I can work with him all day at home, but the day after that, I've got places to go and things to do. So is it OK to switch back and forth between using the potty and wearing pull-ups or underpants, to letting him go in his diaper? Or will that just confuse him? Do I need to commit to this 100% or not at all?

Advice is welcome. In the meantime, I'm going to do something completely out-of-character for myself, and just wing it. I'll keep you posted on our progress...


  1. Would he like stickers as a reward? I used M&M's for a day or so and then just switched to gushing praise of how big of a boy he was and how only babies go potty in a diaper and how icky diapers are ;) Also, with pull-ups, I kept big boy underwear on underneath the pull-up because I didn't want M to think it was okay to pee in his pants just because he was wearing the pull-up. I spent two days pumping him full of fluid and putting him on the toilet every 15 minutes. For the poo... I would turn Pandora to Toddler Tunes and just sit with him for a while and encourage him to "work hard". For M, he caught on to going on the potty immediately, but it took a couple weeks before he would actually tell me when he had to go... Also, when we took the plunge to big boy underwear and going on the potty, diapers, as far as he is concerned, were history. No matter how frustrated I got with accidents... I'm no expert, that's just what worked for us.

  2. I do have some thoughts. One is, do they still sell those little things that sit on the toilet seat to make the opening smaller? I hope you know what I mean. Also, try putting the potty chair on the floor that would be easier to clean, such as the kitchen floor. I like Mary's idea about giving him lots of liquids and then have him try every 15 minutes or so. If my memory is correct, I do believe the book "how to potty train in a day, " or something like that was helpful years ago. I will let you know if I think of anything else. Good Luck. It will take time but Owen will get it. Love you. xoxo

  3. I'm obviously no expert either as I have never potty trained anyone (other than Gus), but I've had several conversations about potty training with our daycare lady (who has potty trained LOTS of kids in her 27 years of doing daycare). She always uses the big potty and suggests not using the kid potty's because once you have potty trained, if the child does not know how to go in a big potty, they will never be able to go anywhere out in public, ya know? And she says she thinks once you start training you stick with it always 100%, and never tell them it's ok to "just go in their pant this time" because that is very confusing to them. I'm trying to remember what other tips she's given me, but I can't right now. I'd be happy to talk to her again about it for you, if you'd like her thoughts. I remember she told me once that (as long as the parents are cooperative with her), she can usually potty train a child within a day or two. Let me know. And good luck with everything! ;)